Here is an article I am reading which I found on ‘Church Expatriates’. The author has given us much to consider and to truly ask ourselves some very good and possibly pointed questions regarding church leadership. I hope you will take the time to read it completely before drawing any conclusion, whether pro or con. Then please submit comments, [again] no matter pro or con, as well. In so doing we all may learn and grow in Christ.
Remember this passage as we endeavor together to live for Him who gave His life for all of us.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
(Romans 12:1-10 emphasis added)
The biggest reason why so much confusion exists around the term “Church Leadership”
today is because of the system of control within which the Bride of Christ is attempting to function. The intricate web of politics and the man-made hierarchies are suffocating the Body with its pious regulations, making the Body bend forwards and backwards at its will. In contrast, the majority of people who have a title of some sort stuck before their names within the contemporary church seem to be thriving within the system they have helped to create. The one group is struggling and the other is thriving – doesn’t there seem to be some sort of correlation here?
Arguably the biggest reason why church going folk struggle so hard with accepting this type of talk is that their church leaders deliberately warn them against accepting aspects of Biblical truth that they are not used to hearing preached from that church’s pulpit. So without attempting to even trying to understand it, they will walk away from it. This is the level of deception that exists in the religious institution that calls itself the “church” today.
There are millions of people around the globe today who are serving in formal leadership positions within the secular church and possibly one of the hardest things in the world is to show them how their well meant contributions to the institutions where they serve is actually detrimental to the spiritual development of the Bride of Christ. The tragic reality is that just about none of the leaders are open to discussing this topic, since the mere fact that anybody even dares to question the way in which well orchestrated church programs are conducted in this day and age, is viewed as rebellious, usurping and seeking to bring division within the church. There are exceptions here and there, with a small minority of leaders being open to admitting that the church system is beyond repair, but because they depend on the current state of affairs for their livelihood, they are reluctant (or at best unable) to do anything about it.
For those who are involved in full time, paid church ministry or church leadership, please remember to distinguish between the “office” we are addressing in this book and the people who are employed in that office. We are by no means attacking people personally!
A Function, Not a Title
As mentioned before, pastors, evangelists, prophets and apostles were all meant to be
functions within the church, whether they are performed in an official capacity or not.
They were never intended to be titles. It’s exactly the same with church leaders. Yes,
some of the early apostles did travel between the early churches and identified elders
(Titus 1:5), yet the function of those who lead or govern within the church is listed as a
gift in the Bible, just like the five fold ministry:
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets,
thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1 Cor 12:28 KJVA, emphasis added)
This means that leadership is just as much a gift of the Spirit as healing. It’s not a title. It is not a “position” that someone can be appointed into. Instead it’s an out-flowing of the character and gifts that a person has been endowed with.
Jesus taught His disciples the same thing:
But you must not be called Rabbi, for One is your teacher, Christ, and you
are all brothers. And call no one your father on the earth, for One is your
Father in Heaven. Nor be called teachers, for One is your Teacher, even
Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matt 23:8-
Modern day religion has replaced the word “Rabbi” with “Pastor” or “Prophet” or
“Teacher” or “Minister”. People are quite happy to march around with titles stuck before their names.
A little later we will take a closer look at the buzz word on the mind of everybody who
has ever wanted to serve in full time ministry: “Ordination”.
Sad But True!
In some of the traditional denominations (not everywhere), the senior leader mainly
serves two prime functions: firstly to act as the congregation’s chief moral policeman and secondly to keep the “business” financially afloat, which is accomplished by squeezing financial contributions out of the attendees. In essence, they are nothing more than branch managers for a thriving business.
Being the carrier of an official title which elevates him above the rest of the congregation, a modern day minister also has the right to expect from the congregation to substantially reduce their ability to reason logically when they enter the church building. Being members of his church, they are definitely allowed to chew on what he says, but questioning him during his sermon is strictly forbidden and contesting his teaching afterwards is also mostly thwarted by the circle of supporting leaders that are put in place to protect him, especially in the bigger congregations. For a normal church member to be granted an audience with the senior Pastor in the mega churches is often only a far-fetched dream. It is mostly only possible after subsequent meetings with the other elders have failed, or if the matter constitutes a significant threat to their empire. It is actually quite achievable to attend one of these churches for months and months without the senior Pastor ever even knowing you.
In the traditional denominations we find a very interesting but paradoxical phenomenon.
The ministers, who by definition are supposed to be shepherds of the flock, have nearly
no shepherd heart at all! In fact they are quite happy to give wolves or other predators
free reign in their churches from time to time. Here’s how:
When a minister in a denominational church decides to go on leave or calls in sick, they will let any guy who has been ordained within the same denomination come in and preach at their church, whether they know this guy or not. After all, “head office” has declared him competent, right? It doesn’t matter if this guy brings with him the poison of his own preconceived ideas or half truths. There is no or little care for relating with this new preacher personally before allowing him to attend to the flock. He’s simply given a license to come in and sow chaos, often leaving the flock bewildered and confused.
What stands out about this trend is that the “head offices” of these denominations do not for a single second want to appear as if they’ve lost face in front of the masses of people under their control. They place the importance of “office” and formal training above relationships in the sense that they regard it as being more important to have a qualified, paid guy to perform the job of preaching other than having somebody from that local congregation fill in for the absent minister.
This phenomenon in itself is shattering evidence of the failure of the system – it shouts
loud and clear that the aim of the local minister is in fact not to train people up to start
preaching themselves (else someone from the local congregation could have filled in for him), but in fact to entice them to keep coming back week after week to listen
submissively to his skillful mastery of the Bible.
And saddest of all is that when the preachers within these denominations find a better
paying position with another congregation, they will leave their own flock behind and
take the “job” at the new church, handing the flock over on a silver platter to whichever predator wishes to have them next.
No wonder the world doesn’t want to have anything to do with the “church”…
Nowhere in the Bible do we find a pattern that portrays the kind of leadership system
which is found in much of the church world today. Nowhere was there a centralized
“head quarters” which spewed out orders and decrees to its branches. In the first century church the apostles traveled between the churches, exhorting them and ministering to them, but never as their bosses. They came in beside the people as their brothers, serving them in whichever way they could. There was no governing body that lorded over any of the first century churches – they were the highest form of authority unto themselves, with Christ directly heading up each local body of believers.
The very fact that we are actually able to “classify” our churches by being able to place ourselves within a certain flavor of the corporate, religious structure, is overwhelming evidence that we are in fact, controlled by a system, since each of these denominations are governed by unwritten rules of acceptable behavior. Among all the different congregations of Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, all the diverse flavors of Charismatic or any other type of secular church found in the world, there are clear cut similarities in their leadership structures and the manner in which they conduct their meetings. These tactics are based on centuries of tradition and is largely responsible for the masses of dormant, immature believers who fill up the hundreds of thousands of church buildings every Sunday.
The Modern Day Pastor
How did the Pastor get a member of his mega church to spend 20 minutes
balancing a coconut on his head? He simply told the church member the
activity was a “ministry”. (Edward “The Janitor” Haveren)
It’s a commonly known fact that some of the most emotionally laden, unselfish and self-sacrificing people in the world are the full time Pastors in the secular church. It’s
probably one of the most unthankful jobs someone can dream of having, in fact during a survey* it was found that next to a car salesman, a Christian Pastor was the second
most unwanted job in the USA. Thousands upon thousands of Pastors have walked
away from the empires they have helped create in the past, mostly due to burning out
under the intense psychological strains imposed on them by numerous factors:
> Every week they need to deliver a striking sermon to the mixed crowd of
expectant, critical, exciting and somber faces staring up at them from the pews.
They need to make sure that during the times when their church is struggling to
pay all their bills, that their “encouraging” of the flock to give more money doesn’t
come across as too forceful, since people are easily offended when it comes to
money these days.
They are expected to deal sensibly with the immature, political bickering that is
sometimes found within their congregation, but occasionally also within the
They need to keep up an appearance of morality, sanity, peace, wisdom and a
sought after relationship with God to be viewed in good stead by the rest of the
church. Pastors are mostly not expected to show any signs of human frailty due
to being put on a pedestal by the congregation.
In the Charismatic circles they are required to present a seamlessly orchestrated
concert with a delicate equilibrium between giving the Holy Spirit room to move,
while maintaining proper “order” during the service. They need to coordinate
closely with the worship team not to “break the atmosphere” and yet come up
with a way to convey the message they prepared during the week to fit in with
whatever direction the Holy Spirit seemed to lead them during the worship
The senior Pastor is responsible for maintaining the fragile balance between
“promoting” people within their congregation to formal leader or elder status,
while ensuring that not too many are appointed as leaders so as not to turn the
entire church into leaders. There still needs to be a healthy percentage of
“normal” people to attend and minister to.
The list goes on and on, but it’s easy to see why the job of a Pastor isn’t for everyone.
But to the average church going Christian, in spite of all the evidence stacked up against this career choice, there is still something dignified about it. It’s almost as if the privilege of being able to say that you’re a pastor has an untainted, consecrated and authoritarian ring to it. In fact, it definitely does.
Every year thousands and thousands of aspiring full time ministers enroll for elaborate ministry, college and university degrees and diplomas. It’s possible nowadays to obtain formal qualifications in pastoral, apostolic, evangelical and prophetic ministry. The occupation of “full time minister’, after being around for more than 1600 years, has been firmly engrained into our Christian society and way of thinking. For church going Christian parents there quite possibly couldn’t be any better news than hearing their child wants to become a Pastor. Everyone knows it’s a tough employment preference, but as the person in charge of the spiritual wellbeing of hundreds or possibly thousands of people, what can be nobler than this?
Pastor = SHEPHERD?
In the non-denominational Pentecostal circles the title of “Pastor” has become the core
around which nearly the entire movement revolves. Their buildings line the streets of
nearly every town on the planet and every Sunday morning the Pastor can be found
there, faithfully overseeing his flock.
A striking observation is that the Greek word poimēn has only been translated as “Pastor” once in the entire New Testament (in Eph 4:11) where it was listed as a gift that God gave to the church, along with the rest of the well known five fold ministry.
8 Therefore He says, “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity
captive and gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now that He ascended, what is it but that
He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who
descended is the same also as He who ascended up far above all heavens,
that He might fill all things.) 11 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and
some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors
and teachers, 12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ. (Eph 4:8-12 MKJV, emphasis added)
It’s clear that Paul listed the five fold ministry as gifts, given by God to His church for the maturing and equipping of the Body of Christ. God didn’t instate an “order” to distinguish between specially “called” people and “normal” people in the church. In some of the Bible translations the interpreters wanted to reiterate the fact that it was a gift and not a title and inserted the word “gifts” (appearing in verse 8) into verse 11 as well:
He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher…
(Eph 4:11b MSG, emphasis added)
It was he who “gave gifts to people”; he appointed some to be apostles,
others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and
teachers. (Eph 4:11 GNB, emphasis added)
In a typical modern day church meeting the Pastor will direct the entire meeting,
appearing initially to welcome the congregation and make some announcements, after
which he will normally hand over to the worship team to sing few songs. Some Pastors
prefer this order so that they can step in at the end of the last song to start ministering in the “atmosphere of glory” which had been created by the music. At this point the offering plates will be passed around, after which the Pastor will plunge into delivering his sermon.
The lead Pastor is also expected to be flame sharp and effortlessly flowing in all the gifts of the Spirit, namely healing, faith, tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophesy, words of wisdom and knowledge, working of miracles and discerning between the spirits. He is expected to be the most spiritually mature person in the congregation; a person who is worthy of his special calling as a Pastor, and of course of his paycheck.
Away from the Sunday meetings, Pastors are also entrusted with overseeing the church’s finances, arranging extra mural activities and outreaches, mid-week prayer
meetings, cell group leader meetings, church board meetings, seminars, conferences
and be on 24/7 standby for emotional or spiritual emergencies experienced by anybody in their congregation. In fact, so well known are the tasks of the Pastor in a modern day church that nearly everybody who isn’t a Pastor knows them as well.
And yet, this function in the church was only mentioned once in the entire Bible… as part of a list of other functions. In every other instance in the Bible this word was translated as “shepherd”. Here are some examples:
When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd that was like sheep
without a shepherd (poimēn). He felt sorry for the people and started
teaching them many things. (Mar 6:34 CEV, emphasis added)
He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we
might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were
as sheep going astray, but now you are turned to the Shepherd (poimēn)
and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet 2:24-25 MKJV, emphasis added)
The reason why the translators used the word “Pastor” in Eph 4:11 (especially since this is the only place in the entire Bible where poimēn was translated in this manner) was because by the time that the Bible was first translated into English in 1611, the man-made office of Pastor was already firmly established in the church.
From this and also from what we’ve discussed in our previous chapter regarding the
origin of the “title” of Pastor, it’s clear that the translators made the fatal mistake of
translating human tradition back into the scriptures, instead of letting scripture interpret itself.
Surely if pastors played even nearly as important a role in the lives of the first century
church as they did today, we ought to have been able to read more about them in Paul’s epistles; especially since it’s nearly impossible to find a Pentecostal church nowadays without a formally ordained Pastor leading the service from the front?
Firstly it’s notable that a much smaller number of people have the bravado to attach as a title one of the other gifts of the five fold ministry in front of their names. There are for example far less people who actually have the courage to dub themselves Apostle
George or Evangelist Jenny or Prophet William (even though some people still do!). A
simple explanation for this is that if a person opted to carry for example the title of
Prophet, their lives would be marked by consistent, accurate, consequential prophesies.
The same with an Evangelist (who would be mightily transforming communities by
bringing the good news to the oppressed) and Apostles (who would be nomadic, miracle working, church planters). These people would need to be known by the functions which they perform within the body of Christ, else other people would soon rat them out for being phonies.
However when someone opts to carry the title of Pastor, there are a myriad of man-made traditions, politics, perceptions and church policies which come into play. It’s much easier for a person to hide behind this clutter of terminologies… and get paid for it as well.
Since we don’t have an accurate description of the role of a Pastor in the first century
church, let’s take a look at the Greek:
G4166: Of uncertain affinity; a shepherd (literally or figuratively): – shepherd, pastor.
Since a shepherd is somebody who cares for and protects sheep, it would therefore not
be inaccurate to assume that in Eph 4:11 Paul was referring to someone who loved their
brothers and sisters with a fierce, protective love. They encouraged, aided and exhorted the church. Thus, they too would have been known by the function they performed.
Conversely in the modern day church however, most people become Pastors after
completing some Bible College course or after they have jumped through their
institution’s religious and political hoops long enough. It’s also quite commonplace for
someone to assume the role of Pastor if their parents have served in the office and they
managed not to destroy their family in the process – there are literally thousands of
second, third, fourth and even fifth generation Pastors who lead local churches today.
Instead of being a function, it has become a full time job; an official title.
To reiterate the point again, the word “Pastor” was a term that was put into the Bible by the translators of the time. These people took the existing traditions of their era and
translated them into what they thought the scriptures were trying to say, instead of
staying consistent with ALL the other renderings of the word poimēn throughout the
Bible and translating the word as “Shepherd”. We therefore have no Biblical proof for the role of the Pastor as it exists in nearly every Pentecostal church today.
This article can be viewed and commented on also at: